Real Beer, Eating out, Live Music, driving, learning Guitar, shooting.
I started my HiFi journey with first wage packet, which was not very much in 1984. The following history is mostly for the nostalgic kit references for people of a certain age; you know who you are! Most of it was actually quite rubbish but fondly remembered for the pleasure it brought at the time.
Trio integrated amp (KA-1500 I think) with Pioneer PL12D turntable, which was a staple of the time and Dalesford D Major speakers of which I have only seen one other pair. They were an 8” mid/woofer with 8” ABR & Audax tweeter design in a rear curved cabinet and a slab of walnut veneer on top. Heavy bass and not much else is among my memories of that setup which at the time was fine with me. The next months’ wages went on a Nakamichi 480Z cassette deck on which I would capture the BBC radio 1 chart show from my NEC tuner on Sunday evenings and use the brilliantly sensitive wired remote control combined with telepathy to stop and start without recording the DJ.
I traded the amp years later for a NAD 7240 receiver, radio was my main source then and I recall sounded very good to me at the time. It developed a hum on one channel of the tuner unfortunately and in turn was traded to a different branch of the dealer that never fixed the hum; Justice if not satisfaction! The new amp was a Yamaha “Natural Sound” something or other 85WPC unit (the numbers were important in your twenties!) which to be fair sounded OK if you used the CD Direct feature bypassing the tone controls. A Technics SLP-111, my first CD player was added, a player so thin and basic it bowed in the middle but in 1988 choice was limited as were funds. Replaced by an SL-P350, which was much prettier and had more buttons. This I replaced with a Marantz CD 63 Mk II SE.
I visited a nearby Naim / Linn dealer (does that still happen) with a friend and realised the Dalesfords were holding the music back. I bought a pair of Walnut Linn Keilidhs with Ku-Stone bases and their LK400 cable, which resembled two black central heating pipes in parallel. This was followed shortly after by a CD3.5 NAC92R / NAP90.3 combo which all served me well for many years. A 102/ Napsc / NAP180 followed and really helped with the Keilidhs which had felt like a difficult load in comparison. I added a Sonic Bliss PSU later which powered the NAC102 and CD3.5 and was, for me, HiCap territory at under FlatCap cost and a big improvement.
I was getting into some regular BBC radio programs such as Mike Harding’s Folk hour so treated myself to a NAT 02 with a Ron Smith Galaxie 14 aerial. This is still sublime when tuned to a BBC live broadcast on R3.
Feeling the CD3.5 was due an upgrade and having dabbled with streaming and enjoying the convenience, I listened to the ND5-XS with a mind that if it didn’t sound too far behind a CD5x I would have it. To my delight and surprise, it sounded better than the CD player for me and that, with the Radio Paradise 320K stream sealed it. I had the bug again, the Keilidhs went to a cousin and I added a pair of Epos Epic 5 floor standers, an absolute revelation in open, detailed sound with satisfying bass they were a big improvement on my 21 year old Linns and along with the ND5 and Radio Paradise helped reignite my passion for discovering new music.
I had borrowed some Mogami 2972 to try in place of the NACA5 on advice and was visiting my dealer to pay for it. There was a scheduled demo of an Audio Note level 4 system about to start and he invited me to join. Up until this point, I had always avoided listening to a system I thought I could never afford but curiosity got the better of me and I did. When the first record ended (I’d been listening with my eyes closed and was transported to where Miles Davis was playing live) I clapped enthusiastically until I remembered where I was and sat down embarrassed. I was reassured this was not an uncommon reaction.
Over the last couple of years I replaced the Epos Epic 5s with Audio Note AX-Three Hemps and the trusty 102/180 combo with an Audio Note Oto Line SE Signature. Recently the Audio Note DAC 2.1x taking feed from the ND5 has completed this phase of upgrades to achieve the musicality and realism of voice and instruments I had hankered for since hearing the demo.
I don’t regret sitting in on that demo; I will for a while longer need to cook in a kitchen I had planned to update and keep my current car a while longer, but to me it’s worth it.